Cheers - March/April 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 35 of 59 36 • March/April 2016 2016 GROWTH BRAND AWARDS WINE marketing efforts on the multicultural consumer, particular Hispanics, which has been a key to growth. The brand partners with music and entertainment platforms to engage with customers and infl uencers. Buchanan's also redesigned its packaging in 2015 for three out of four whiskies for the fi rst time in 23 years. "Over the past few years, Buchanan's has grown a stake and equity in the world of Latin music, and we will continue to support these high-profi le music platforms and up-and-coming Hispanic music talent that embody the spirit of our brand and our founder," says Diageo's Scotch whisky, North America director Brian Cox. A much younger brand, Fast Track winner Tito's Handmade Vodka is among the few shining stars in its category. Tito's began 2015 with a "Fresh Start" program that shared with consumers how the founder's own fresh start led him down a path to follow his passion and skills. "When [founder Tito Beveridge] launched his vodka 20 years ago, no one in the industry was speaking about the craft spirits movement," says the company's executive vice president of sales Peter Angus. "Tito's foresight has pioneered the way for literally hundreds, if not thousands, of other craft spirits to share their creations from coast to coast. You can legitimately say he has helped birth the craft spirit movement in the U.S., much the way Jim Koch pioneered the craft beer movement." Finally, distiller Heaven Hill led all spirit suppliers this year with nine winners (second place was Diageo with fi ve). Included in that list are a diverse group of brands, from Blackheart Spiced rum to Larceny bourbon to newly acquired Deep Eddy vodka. "Quality and variety are the characteristics we think consumers embrace, which are consistent across the entire range of products from Heaven Hill Brands," says vice president of marketing Kate Latts. "These award-winning brands deliver unique and compelling experiences for their core consumers through innovative marketing and promotional programs, with the range covering the entire spectrum of this great industry." 2016 GROWTH BRAND AWARDS SPIRITS Q&A WITH PATRÓN Patrón earned its 14th Growth Brands award this year (for Established Growth) and will likely join the Hall of Fame in 2017. Both the original tequila and its cousin Roca Patrón, a Rising Star for its 11.1% growth in 2015, are leading the superpremium tequila category. We sat down with Greg Cohen, vice president of corporate communications at Patrón Spirits, to learn more about the company's two fast-growing brands. Cheers: What promotions or activations in 2015 led to these brands' growth? GC: We had a very busy year, introducing a number of special release tequilas and packaging—including a partnership with Lalique, our fi rst ever 1-liter bottle and the limited edition Patrón Extra Añejo 7 Años. And our focus on innovation wasn't just limited to products; we also introduced a virtual reality experience leveraging Oculus technology, which took people on an immersive tour of our distillery in Mexico. Cheers: Which industry trends are most contributing to the growth at Patrón right now? GC: Appreciation for high-quality, ultra-premium spirits continues to grow across the globe. People are becoming more aware and educated about sophisticated spirits, and they're seeking new and unique taste experiences. It's an especially exciting time for tequila—no other spirits category has evolved this quickly, changing its image and perception so dramatically. Patrón is widely credited for leading that evolution. GRAPE GROWERS By Kyle Swartz Several wine brands enjoyed strong showings in 2016 thanks to a number of emerging trends and marketing tactics. One theme is a renewed focus on highlighting unique stories and authenticity. "Smart brands allow their fans to make a personal connection by seeing where the grapes are grown, aged and bottled," explains Marina Velez, senior product manager at The Beverage Information & Insights Group. The overall economy is improving, and with that customer interest in premium brands is expanding. Higher price points are no longer a turnoff, but a point of intrigue and a mark of quality. Much of the wine industry's growth last year came in the $10 to $15 retil price range. "Wine brands are comfortable raising their prices in a way they weren't during the recession," Velez explains. "Consumers are continuing to trade up to the premium tier in wine, and we'll continue to see that trend accelerate. We're also seeing winemakers emphasize quality ingredients and artisanal processes as they compete against bourbon and craft beers." But affordability remains a strong selling point with wine. "As new brands continue to enter the premium segment, it puts pressure on similar brands to stay competitive, offering consumers great value," Velez notes.

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